DNP Programs in PA

The Philadelphia Inquirer titled a 2010 article, “Nurses who are Doctors”. There has been a trend for some years for states to allow very highly trained nurses to take on certain duties traditionally reserved for doctors. There has also been a trend toward more education and credentialing for nurses. Right now, most nurses who are licensed as nurse practitioners have master’s degrees. This is changing, however.

The healthcare system is becoming more complex, fueled by medical and technological advances, and by the needs of an aging and increasingly diverse population. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing made a recommendation in 2004 that nurse practitioner programs be moved to the doctorate level. By 2015, they decided, the DNP would become the standard. The ten year timeline was to allow educational institutions time for a smooth transition. Other organizations, like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, have expressed support for the goal.

Pennsylvania is well prepared for the switch. The AACN site lists eleven DNP programs. This is more than in any other state in the nation. It is not required that current practitioners complete doctorates. There are, however, a lot of options for those who do want to equip themselves with the latest knowledge. The AACN Task Force listed, among the advantages of a practice doctorate, increased leadership skills and enhanced ability to handle complex practice roles. They anticipated that some DNP practitioners would become nurse educators, thus helping alleviate the nursing shortage.

Doctorate of Nursing Practice Programs in Pennsylvania

What characterizes a DNP program? Students typically take courses in population health, informatics, biostatistics, and nursing leadership as well as classes in their own specialty. They complete 1,000 hours of post-BSN clinical work and carry out a capstone project.

Some Pennsylvania schools have separate BSN to DNP and DNP completion programs. By having multiple entry points, they are in accordance with the Essentials of Doctoral Education, published by the AACN. This document emphasized that all NPs should exit with the same competencies, but that, in the early years, many nurses would enter DNP programs having already mastered many of the competencies. DNP completion programs tend to be flexible, and are designed with the working professional in mind. There are often full and part-time options offered either online or on campus. Jefferson University, for example, lists four different options for DNP completion students, depending on how many courses they want to take at a time, and how quickly they want to be finished.

Pennsylvania’s DNP candidates may continue coursework in their current specialty; generalists may select from the traditional nurse practitioner specialties, including family practice, neonatal, pediatrics, adult, gerontology, psychiatric/ mental health, and acute care. There are additional options, as well, for clinical nurse specialists and other highly trained professionals. The University of Pittsburgh, for example, offers Adult Medical Surgical Clinical Nurse Specialist, and Wilkes University offers Nurse Management.

Drexel University, which is accredited by the NLNAC, offers a practice doctorate called the Dr.N.P., conceived as a hybrid of the DNP and PhD. (Although CCNE only accredits practice doctorates with the DNP designation, the NLNAC accepts other titles.)

Contact Information for DNP Programs in Pennsylvania

star Check out the nursing schools offering Online DNP Programs.

Carlow University

3333 Fifth Ave.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213
PH: 412-578-8764


Chatham University - College for Continuing and Professional Studies

Woodland Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15232
PH: 412-365-1498


Drexel University

PH: 215-762-2651


Duquesne University

5th Floor Fisher Hall
600 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15282
PH: 412-396-4945


Pennsylvania State University

201 Health and Human Development East
University Park, PA 16802
Pittsburgh, PA 15282
PH: 814-863-0245


Robert Morris University

PH: 412-397-5202


Thomas Jefferson University

PH: 215-503-8890


University of Pittsburgh

3500 Victoria Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15261
PH: 412-624-4586


Waynesburg University


Widener University

One University Place
Chester, PA 19013
PH: 610-499-4219


Wilkes University


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